Primary care physicians' perspectives on facilitating older patients' access to community support services: Qualitative case study.
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OBJECTIVE: To understand how family physicians facilitate older patients' access to community support services (CSSs) and to identify similarities and differences across primary health care (PHC) models. DESIGN: Qualitative, multiple-case study design using semistructured interviews. SETTING: Four models of PHC delivery, specifically 2 family health teams (FHTs), 4 non-FHTs family health organizations, 4 fee-for-service practices, and 2 community health centres in urban Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: Purposeful sampling of 23 family physicians in solo and small and large group practices within the 4 models of PHC. METHODS: A multiple-case study approach was used. Semistructured interviews were conducted and data were analyzed using within- and cross-case analysis. Case study tactics to ensure study rigour included memos and an audit trail, investigator triangulation, and the use of multiple, rather than single, case studies. MAIN FINDINGS: Three main themes were identified: consulting and communicating with the health care team to create linkages; linking patients and families to CSSs; and relying on out-of-date resources and ineffective search strategies for information on CSSs. All participants worked with their team members; however, those in FHTs and community health centres generally had a broader range of health care providers available to assist them. Physicians relied on home-care case managers to help make linkages to CSSs. Physicians recommended the development of an easily searchable, online database containing available CSSs. CONCLUSION: This study shows the importance of interprofessional teamwork in primary care settings to facilitate linkages of older patients to CSSs. The study also provides insight into the strategies physicians use to link older persons to CSSs and their recommendations for change. This understanding can be used to develop resources and approaches to better support physicians in making appropriate linkages to CSSs.